Rev. Sekou In Times Like These
Published May 03, 2017In recent discussions about the challenges facing America — police brutality, the Trump administration, etc. — sooner or later someone says essentially, "at least this will inspire some powerful music." Rev. Sekou's new album is that hoped-for result.
"Resist" opens the album with a clip of Rev. Sekou's impassioned speech at a Ferguson, MO rally to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, before jumping into undeniable gospel-blues-rock that almost anyone can sing along to immediately, and that openness is part of this music's power.
Other short field-recording flourishes help colour the meanings of songs. Bob Marley cover "Burnin' and Lootin'" begins with knocking at the door, "We Who Believe" opens with what sounds like a prison chain-gang, and other songs variously include dogs barking, thunderclaps or peaceful rural bird sounds.
The instrumental playing on this album is phenomenal. Standouts include Rev. Charles Hodges on Hammond organ and AJ Ghent's pedal and slide guitar. Luther and Cody Dickinson also slay on guitar and drums respectively. However, the real hero is of course Rev. Sekou's powerful voice, which serves to unite, inspire, and propel.
The sweating and swaying builds through the joyous gospel eruption of "The Devil Finds Work"; the exposed but virtuosic vocal of "Old Time Religion" and the lively backbeat of "When The Spirit Says Move" begin to look homeward; "Will To Win" proves there's no shortage of surprising ideas here with a hip hop-ish group vocal near its end. However, the soul-bearing of "Loving You Is Killing Me" and "Problems" are just ruinous for one's heart (in the best way).
Rev. Sekou, thank you for taking us back to church. Your hope and healing has long been necessary. (Thirty Tigers)